With the chugging backbeat and sing-song primitivism of classic garage rock, “Small Pony” blends a thin, bashy DIY sound with something elusively richer and cleaner. Beneath its bratty drive (I mean that in a good way), the song finds little ways to breathe and expand—that end-of-verse space where the mix reduces to bass and drum, for instance (first heard at 0:17), or that brief moment of vocal harmony heard directly after that. Small things, you’re not even really supposed to notice them, so maybe forget I mentioned them—just enjoy the side benefit of the song being cooler and more accomplished than this kind of thing often is.
And as fun and insistent as the head-bobbing verse melody is, with its alternating ascending/descending hook, the chorus is even better, featuring a step-like descent that now feels very Phil-Spector-girl-group-y. This impression is strengthened by the way front woman Anna McCarthy’s voice is produced here, wrapped with same-note harmonies and ever-so-subtly distorted. The break after the chorus is equally charming. First we get a guitar solo so matter-of-fact it’s almost drowned out by the drums, followed by background wordless vocals that marry a ’50s melody line to the unrelenting garage-y backbeat into one more moment that might not quite register but yet again adds to “Small Pony”‘s allure.
Even the lyrics have a kind of hiding-in-plain-sight panache. Avoiding the tired trappings of either infatuation or heartbreak, “Small Pony,” if I understand it properly, seems to be about the unique wonders of a long-term relationship. (But where the title comes from I have no idea.)
“Small Pony” is the lead track from the album Swoon, the band’s debut, released in December on Graveface Records. Dott is from the delightful if rainy city of Galway, Ireland. MP3 via Magnet Magazine.